2019 SVP Startup Profile: Growth Cave
Does your business have a presence on Facebook? Did you know that you could bring significant sales traffic to your business through Facebook advertising? SVP participant Lucas Lee-Tyson ‘20 was able to create an entire business of his own by teaching other businesses how to do just that, founding Growth Cave. Recently I met with Lucas to learn more about how he turned his Facebook skills into a business providing immense value to his clients. Here are the highlights from our interview:
So tell us a bit about yourself!
My name is Lucas Lee-Tyson and I’m going into my senior year at Babson. I’ve always been a nerdy computer kid, so my time in high school was spent teaching myself Photoshop through YouTube videos. It was that experience which led me into the world of entrepreneurship. I have tried basically every business out there: e-commerce, building blogs, anything else that people would say is starting a business I’ve probably tried it. Eventually I was able to find my true niche with digital marketing. Growth Cave is a combination of both a marketing agency and a marketing education site. We create online courses designed around specific marketing concepts and then teach them to smaller entrepreneurs who can’t afford the expense of traditional marketing agencies or consultants.
How did you start Growth Cave and what specific experiences led you to pursue this Venture?
I got the idea last summer when I was working as a marketing intern at a growing tech company. At that point I had already been in the digital marketing industry for a few years. When I got the chance to sit in on calls and see the kind of marketing strategies they were implementing, I thought to myself, “This is the same stuff that I was reading about online, I could do this myself!” So I started becoming what people would call a “Facebook ads freelancer,” helping business owners optimize their Facebook ad campaigns. Based on my experiences as a freelancer, I realized that there was an unserved market of business owners and entrepreneurs that are in the early stages of their venture but are preparing for imminent growth. They really want to start scaling things up because they’ve proven their business concept and their product-market fit without spending a ton of money on marketing, and now they know “Okay, if we put some money into this maybe we can grow our business.” So that’s the market that we serve and the journey that led me to that point.
What activity or resource so far has helped you the most in SVP?
The SVP Customer Discovery Workshop with Eric Braun, who’s also my mentor for the program, was really helpful. When I have an idea or see a potential opportunity I’ll just immediately dive into my computer and start working on it. I won’t take into consideration a lot of people’s feedback or ask a lot of questions, and that can be a really good quality at times because that’s how you initially get a business off the ground. But for a business at a stage like mine which already has that initial traction, I realized that I needed to get more in tune with my market. My first product was an online course about Facebook, and it resonated with a wide range of customers. I had some authors that bought it, people with startups, and even some other marketers. I wasn’t really sure what to make of this data: do I focus on only on one of these groups of customers or do I try to target all of them? The workshop that we did with Eric really gave me a lot of clarity on how I should approach different market segments and ultimately how to select the best one for business growth.
In what ways have your SVP peers and mentors supported you and your Venture?
Being able to meet with my mentor Eric Braun has been super helpful. I’ve asked questions and he’s given me answers that had never crossed my mind, which I think is valuable in this kind of mentor-mentee relationship. To have a group of peers in this program who are also running and growing their own businesses is so valuable to me. As a solo founder, I don’t have any full-time employees and it can be easy to get stuck in my own little line of thinking and think, “this is how everything has to be.” But seeing how my SVP peers run their businesses and hearing their ideas gives me fresh perspective, helping me improve different aspects of my business.
What major milestones and accomplishments do you hope to achieve during your time in SVP? Or have you achieved any already?
At the very start of SVP, I had just hit the 1,000 subscriber mark on my email list. Our big, moonshot goal is one hundred total students paying to use our premium training course. Even if we get reasonably close to one hundred, I’ll be pretty happy with that.
What is a valuable challenge or learning experience you have faced as a founder so far?
I think the biggest challenge for me is being in a competitive industry that’s very much like the Wild West. It feels like you’re being pulled in a million different directions at once, and as a solo founder you don’t always know which aspect of your business to prioritize. It’s really hard to gain clarity and stick to a set plan, and I think that’s something I’m still working through. My mentors and peers in the Summer Venture Program have helped me keep myself accountable to the goals I’ve set.
SVP Ventures commute to Boston to our workspace at WeWork as well as Babson Boston. What do you like to do for fun in Boston, and do you have any local restaurant recommendations for us?
For me the nice thing about working in Boston is that I have a lot of friends that are staying here over the summer. Being able to use the T and the Commuter Rail to travel to visit them is always fun. The best food in my opinion is The Chicken & Rice Guys, I know I’m going to be buying from there for years to come if I stay in the area.
Do you have any advice for either aspiring entrepreneurs or yourself at an earlier stage?
My advice for both a younger me and for aspiring entrepreneurs is to just pick something and get started with it. It’s easy to get stuck in analysis paralysis and delay getting started because you’re unsure or afraid. Ultimately there’s always going to be some level of uncertainty and risk involved in starting a business, and to be a successful entrepreneur you need to be able to take those risks. There’s going to be mistakes and you’re going to have to correct course, but that’s all part of starting a business. Taking that first action and then correcting your course along the way, that to me is the most important part.
Where can we find Growth Cave online?
Our website is growthcave.com, and by clicking the big red button on our homepage entrepreneurs can join our email list to get some free marketing resources. I also share insights on my Twitter account @LucasLeeTyson.
If you enjoyed learning about Lucas’s entrepreneurial journey founding Growth Cave, be sure to stay tuned for more SVP venture profile blogs! To meet the entire SVP cohort and celebrate their progress, join us for the Summer Venture Showcase on Thursday, July 25th. RSVP at this link.